This tip comes to you by way of innocent-accident-turned-purposeful-deviance.
I noticed people getting on and off of the buses in Geneva without paying anything, just walking on and sitting down. So I thought- hey, free buses! I’d used the bus system extensively that day, until I had to buy a train to Montreux.
It was a few days later in Montreux that I figured it out. There was a kiosk on the bus, and some small signs explaining that if you did not have a monthly or weekly bus pass, which was scanned as you got on the bus, you had to buy a ticket. Whoops. There was the accident part.
The problem was, that I had already done it a few times for free. So, why stop now? After talking to hostel-mate Juancho in Freiburg, Germany, I learned that basically no one pays for them. They go on virtually unenforced, and it’s very common. So if you’re in Europe and you see people getting on and off a bus without talking to the driver first, go ahead and hop on. In Spain, this is nearly impossible as almost every bus requires you to pay the driver as you enter. But in Switzerland and Germany, go ahead and hop on! This also works for trams, the inner-city trains that run around. Happy travels!
In Italy, the situation is even better. I have taken long-distance trains from Milano all the way to Roma without buying a ticket. They never check them! Same goes for buses, I’ve have ridden 3-4 buses per day for the past three weeks without a single problem. And if you have to enter a metro station (which requires you to swipe a €1.50 ticket to enter) and are with multiple people, you can simply buy one and have everyone traveling with you follow through the gate after the first person. The automatic doors will stay open. We learned this from the locals, who even take it a step further by simply jumping over the gate altogether!
Whoops! Didn’t hear it from me 😉